Tuesday, November 08, 2005


If you read a lot of weblogs and haven't come upon the name of Paul Deignan yet, you will. At Dr. B's there was a discussion of Samuel Alito; Deignan, a graduate student in Engineering at Purdue, commented on it, and, because of the nature of his comments, his comments were removed and he was banned from commenting. One of the other commenters sent a letter to Deignan's advisors (although the commenter claims that it was only after Deignan had sent him an email, so the occasion wasn't actually Deignan's comments; and, it is to be noted, this was not done by Dr. B nor approved by her, and she explicitly noted later that she did not approve of it after the fact), and Deignan has threatened a lawsuit against the commenter, and also threatened to find out Dr. B's real name to use in the lawsuit. This is clearly getting a bit out of hand. PZ Myers has largely expressed my view on the lawsuit threat itself (and he's right on the point that Deignan's response to all this will damage him more than anything else); for Dr. B's response (understandably angry, I think), see her weblog. Dr. B made a judgment call about whether Deignan was contributing or hindering discussion, and whether one agrees with her decision or not, it was her decision to make. As she points out in a later comment, she gives quite a bit of leeway to regular commentators, but regularly deletes comments she considers obnoxious. And now it's very unfortunate that she's been pulled so gratuitously into such a nasty situation, and here's crossing my fingers that it ends up amounting to nothing.

This is a serious issue for bloggers, I think, particularly for those of us who think that allowing pseudonymity is a strength of the blogosphere.

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